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Erie County recognizes World Suicide Prevention Day

Flag of Hope raising
Thomas O'Neil-White

Erie County officials joined mental health and suicide prevention groups in raising the Flag of Hope in front of the Rath Building on World Suicide Prevention Day. September is also National Suicide Prevention Month.

For New Yorkers, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and the 4th leading cause of death for ages 35-54.

Despite those numbers, Erie County has seen a reduction in suicides since 2018. Crises Services C.E.O Jessica Pirro said the reduction can be attributed in part to an expansion of preventative services.

“There’s many partners who are ready, willing and able to help anyone in crises,” she said. “Anyone who needs help, anyone who has questions.”

Jessica Pirro- Crises Services
Thomas O'Neil-White

And the support is not limited to the individual.

“For family members who might need support on how to speak with somebody who might be struggling,” Pirro said. “We are all here.”

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said despite the pain of losing a loved one, suicide is a preventable loss and the county is working towards getting the number of suicides down to zero.

Suicide Prevention signs
Thomas O'Neil-White

“We can, together, combine our resources and our purposes of healing, recovery and hope while shining a spotlight on what can be done to prevent suicide,” she said.

If you or anyone you know is in crises or needs or wants access to mental health services you can call 716-834-3131 to connect with Crisis Services, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text HELLO to 741741 to text with someone from the Crisis Text Line. 

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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